Chris Anger has been a fixture on the Louisville theater scene for many years. Most notably, he is one of the co-founders of the Louisville Improvisors, and he has spent more than a decade putting together the annual Improvapalooza festival. Last year, in the wake of near tragedy, Anger rose from the ashes with a semi-funny/semi-tragic one-man show titled “Dead Astronauts.” He premiered it at the Slant Culture Theatre Festival in November, and due to popular demand, he will perform the show one more time for a special engagement at The Bard’s Town.
LEO: What’s the story of “Dead Astronauts”?
Chris Anger: It’s a one-man show based on my experience. I started to have chest pains about a year ago, and I had to go to the hospital, which started a chain of events. And sometimes, when you’re lying in a hospital bed hooked up to all of these machines, it can really focus your thinking. So I started thinking about family history, things I kinda knew but didn’t really know in any concrete sort of way.
LEO: When you’re down, write about it — was that your logic?
CA: I had been thinking about doing a one-man show for a while, because I had done various other things, you know, I had written for years. But I didn’t know how to tell the story and what story to tell. So I started writing in the hospital, and when I got out, I looked at it, and suddenly knew how to tell the story.
LEO: It’s personal and deals a lot with your family?
CA: What I found out, it’s in a line in the show: “I come from a long line of comics … and heart trouble.” Even though I knew this, and my father had told me all the stories when I was growing up, I didn’t realize how far back it actually went, and that they had all done comedy and that they all died of heart attacks. So I was in the hospital and I was like, “Oh, so maybe there is a genetic component to all of this.”
LEO: Was it hearing all of those stories growing up that led you down the road of being a performer?
CA: It’s kinda funny. Hearing the stories was interesting to me. I was certainly fascinated by it. I remember listening to my grandmother tell stories. So, it didn’t hurt, but I don’t think I had a choice. I was always this way, even as a child.
LEO: Alec Volz has been your partner in crime with Louisville Improvisors for many years, and he’s directing the show. How does someone contribute to something so personal to you?
CA: He was really helpful in structuring it, saying, “Let’s put this piece here, that piece there,” and forming a cohesive story. We’ve been working together for 15 years, so he knows me really well. He knows what I can do, and he knows me personally. So when I send him stuff, he knows what I’m trying to achieve and knows me well enough to know if I’m there or not.
Chris Anger’s ‘Dead Astronauts’
Saturday, May 24
The Bard’s Town
1801 Bardstown Road
$10; 10 p.m.